By Neenah Payne
Stop Extradition of Julian Assange Now! explained that Julian Assange’s Extradition To US Formally Approved By UK Government reported on June 17 that,
“Julian Assange’s fate has been sealed as UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has formally approved his extradition to the United States, following a years-long legal saga in which the WikiLeaks founder’s legal team has pursued every avenue of the courts and appeal to fight the US request.
Held at London’s Belmarsh prison since his being taken out of the Ecuadoran embassy in April 2019, the 50-year-old Assange is now the closest he’s ever been to being handed over to American custody, where it’s expected he would face US legal proceedings and a likely conviction on multiple spying-related charges, eventually being sent to a federal supermax facility, specifically the ADX Florence Supermax. The Home Office has said in wake of Patel’s ruling that Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision.
It affirmed that the courts found that US extradition would not be ‘incompatible with his human rights’ and crucially that in US custody ‘he will be treated appropriately’ – this after the prior most successful legal challenge his defense mounted hinged on his facing cruel and possibly torturous conditions inside the US prison system, specifically the highly isolated life inside ADX Florence confinement.
Upon Patel’s greenlight, WikiLeaks put out an immediate statement saying it is appealing the ruling: ‘Today is not the end of fight,’ it said. ‘It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system; the next appeal will be before the high court.’
The statement said anyone who cared about freedom of expression should be ‘deeply ashamed’ that the Home Secretary approved Assange’s extradition. ‘Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher and he is being punished for doing his job,’ it said. ‘It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.'”
Stella Assange’s Plea To British Government
In the video below, Julian’s wife Stella who is a human rights lawyer, points out that Boris Johnson (the British Prime Minister) and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel can stop the extradition at any time. Stella Assange: “We are going to fight this, we are going to use every appeal avenue. I am going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free.”
Don’t Extradite Julian Assange! Journalism is not a crime. #FreeAssangeNow
World journalists have been quicker than Americans to see danger in prosecuting the WikiLeaks founder.
While the ordeal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange elicits grudging reactions from many American journalists who find him distasteful, his pending extradition to the United States, just approved by the British government, spurs protests around the world. In countries not blessed with a First Amendment, advocates of free speech rightly see Assange’s years-long persecution for exposing U.S. government secrets as an attack on transparency and a threat to anybody who embarrasses powerful officials. Comfortable seat-warmers who are cozy with the powers-that-be may hesitate, but real journalists battling censorious politicians recognize Assange as one of them.
“UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed an order to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison on charges linked to WikiLeaks’ publication of information in the public interest,” Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted on June 17. The organization described the decision as “a failure by the UK government to protect press freedom and will have dangerous implications for journalism around the world.”
On a similar note, London-based PEN International, which represents writers around the world, protested that “Julian Assange’s prosecution raises profound concerns about freedom of the press. Invoking the Espionage Act for practices that include receiving and publishing classified information sends a dangerous signal to journalists and publishers worldwide.”
“There is some historical irony in the fact that this extradition announcement falls during the anniversary of the Pentagon Papers trial, which began with the Times publication of stories based on the legendary leak on June 13, 1971, and continued through the seminal Supreme Court opinion rejecting prior restraint on June 30, 1971,” Trevor Timm, executive director of the New York-based Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) wrote. “In the months and years following that debacle, whistleblower (and FPF co-founder) Daniel Ellsberg became the first journalistic source to be charged under the Espionage Act.”
Ellsberg himself emphasized just months ago that applying the Espionage Act to Assange further extends the abuse of the law to muzzle not just whistleblowers, but the reporters who tell their stories. It’s an overt effort to punish the press for acquiring and publishing information that embarrasses officials.
The U.S. government makes no bones about going after Assange for working with Chelsea Manning “in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” as the Justice Department put it in 2020. The resulting revelations, mostly about U.S. military operations, contradicted official stories and drew the enmity of politicians from both parties, keeping Assange holed up for years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until a change in that country’s government ended his welcome. U.S. enmity even extended to extralegal action.
“In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder,” Yahoo News reported in 2021. Trump administration officials are said to have even discussed assassination.
The current president isn’t much better disposed to the WikiLeaks founder, calling him a “high-tech terrorist” in 2010. Now living in the White House, Biden pushed the extradition of Assange from the U.K.
But, while Assange enjoys the support of international media organizations, American journalists have been slower to warm to him. “I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange,” Michael Grunwald, then of Time, tweeted and then deleted in 2019. “Mr. Assange is not a free-press hero,” editorialized The Washington Post in 2019. “Yes, WikiLeaks acquired and published secret government documents, many of them newsworthy, as shown by their subsequent use in newspaper articles (including in The Post). Contrary to the norms of journalism, however, Mr. Assange sometimes obtained such records unethically.”
“The administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime,” The New York Times editorial board chimed in before apparently having second thoughts. “Invoking the Espionage Act in this case threatens to blur the distinction between a journalist exposing government malfeasance — something that news organizations do with regularity — and foreign spies seeking to undermine the nation’s security,” The Times editorialized just weeks later.
There’s no doubt that Assange rubs some journalists the wrong way with his abrasive personality and seeming skepticism of all authority, not just the faction that most American journalists oppose. WikiLeaks’ publication of Hillary Clinton’s emails certainly alienated media types who favored her candidacy. But the charges he faces have nothing to do with that and focus on basic journalism, so hesitancy in supporting Assange’s cause is entirely misplaced.
“In our polarized and fragmented digital age, the costs and harms of free speech have become much more visible,” warned Jacob Mchangama, founder of Denmark’s Justitia think tank. “Elitist free speech thus seems appealing to many Americans who are having second thoughts about the wisdom of the First Amendment since—as the claim goes—’unfettered free speech is a threat to democracy.'” He rejected that position and, this week, tweeted: “Assange case: A Trojan horse prosecution endangering #pressfreedom.”
The dangerous implications of Assange’s extradition to the United States and looming prosecution are more obvious to journalists who operate in increasingly hostile environments around the world. The loss of the U.S as a bastion for press freedom would leave them more alone than ever.
“Threats against independent media are increasing globally,” the International Journalists’ Networks’ Inaara Gangji noted in May. “From a lack of support for journalists in hostile environments to growing government censorship and oppression of reporters, there are many reasons to be pessimistic about the state of press freedom.”
Assange’s ultimate fate may be sealed when British officials bundle him off to face what many observers anticipate will be a show trial in the United States. And following him into whatever dungeon Justice Department officials have prepared will be some hope for freedom of the press everywhere.
International and national organisations from Brazil organized a parallel online event to the 50th Ordinary Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The main speakers of the event were Stella Assange, wife of Julian Assange, Vijay Prashad, journalist (International Peoples’ Assembly), Zuliana Lainez, vice-president of the IFJ (International Federation of Journalists), and Rebecca Vincent, director of campaigns of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The event was livestreamed in English and Portuguese.
“Without strong international mobilization, journalist Julian Assange will not be free. By publishing on WikiLeaks thousands of documents, photos, and videos that showed the involvement of the United States and its allies in the death of innocent people and in spying on an international scale, Assange fulfilled his duty as a journalist. That is why the struggle for his freedom affects all of us. It is a fundamental struggle in what it says about revealing the truth about war crimes and for press freedom,” declares Giovani del Prete, of the Operational Secretariat of the International Peoples’ Assembly.
“It is essential that the international human rights system closely monitors and take a position on the situation of Julian Assange, in particular on his situation of imprisonment and psychological health, but also on the issue of freedom of the press and freedom of expression under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This event adds to the many international actions on the case, with a strong appeal for the human rights system to enforce the guarantee of dignity and rights of Julian Assange,” comments Eneias da Rosa, Executive Secretary of the Articulation for the Monitoring of Human Rights in Brazil.
“If the WikiLeaks founder is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting…Assange is being extradited because his organization WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes – including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to US checkpoints. He is also being targeted by US authorities for other leaks, especially those that exposed the hacking tools used by the CIA known as Vault 7, which enables the spy agency to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers, and the operating systems of most smart phones, as well as operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux…
The long campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations and the security and surveillance state.
There is no legal basis to hold Assange in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the US Espionage Act… Assange’s ‘crime’ is that he exposed the more than 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians. He exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys, aged between 14 and 89, at Guantánamo. He exposed that Hillary Clinton in 2009 ordered US diplomats to spy on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other UN representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK, spying that included obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords, part of the long pattern of illegal surveillance that included eavesdropping on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He exposed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the CIA orchestrated the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya, replacing him with a murderous and corrupt military regime. He exposed that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and General David Petraeus prosecuted a war in Iraq that, under post-Nuremberg laws, is defined as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime, which authorized hundreds of targeted assassinations, including those of US citizens in Yemen. He exposed that the United States secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen, killing scores of civilians.
He exposed that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $657,000 to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe, and that she privately assured corporate leaders she would do their bidding while promising the public financial regulation and reform. He exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party. He exposed how the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency permit the wholesale government surveillance of our televisions, computers, smartphones, and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, images, and private text messages, even from encrypted apps.”
Julian Assange Represents Freedom of the Press
“The extradition of Assange is a dangerous precedent. Therefore we demand from the UK and US governments: Don’t extradite! Drop all charges!”
July 3: Birthday Vigil For Julian Assange
Assange was born on July 3, 1971.
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